Judge C.G. Weeramantry

World Future Council mourns death of founding member and Honorary Councillor Judge Weeramantry

The World Future Council is deeply saddened by the loss of founding member and Honorary Councillor, Judge C.G. Weeramantry who passed away in Colombo, Sri Lanka on 5 January 2017.

Judge Weeramantry was a Judge of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) from 1991 to 2000, serving as its Vice-President from 1997 to 2000 and a Judge of the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka from 1967 to 1972.

During his time as an ICJ judge, Weeramantry contributed to several landmark cases before the Court. These included a case on the illegality of the use and threat to use of nuclear weapons where he shared remarkable and poignant observations, and the case concerning the Gabcikovo-Nagymaros project which contributed to the furtherance of international sustainable development law.

In the course of his professional career of over five decades as lawyer, legal educator, domestic judge, international judge, author and lecturer, Judge Weeramantry played a leading role in several developing areas of the law. These included the illegality of nuclear weapons, sustainable development, rights of future generations, exploring the interface areas between law and religion and promoting cross cultural understanding.  He was also a passionate advocate of peace education which he believed should include teaching principles of international law at an early age.

He has written over twenty books, most of them extremely influential and translated into many languages, and lectured extensively on these topics in over forty countries.  His book, ‘Nuclear Weapons and Scientific Responsibility’ pioneered the concept of ethics in science, challenged the notion that science is neutral, and introduced the idea of a ‘Hippocratic oath’ for scientists. His book ‘Tread Lightly on the Earth’ offers a pronounced insight and analysis of the concerns of the world’s principal religions with the preservation and nurturing of the natural environment.

After stepping down from the ICJ, Weeramantry took up the position of President of the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms, and continued advancing the application of international law for the benefit of peace and humanity in his new position. This included drafting, and presenting to the UN Security Council a seminal statement on the illegality of the preventive use of force, endorsed by over 200 prominent judges, legal scholars and lawyers from around the world. As IALANA President he also penned an influential public statement, in the wake of the Fukushima disaster, on the application of future justice principles to nuclear energy – in order to highlight its illegality and stupidity.

The Judge was founding Chair of the Centre for International Sustainable Development Law’s International Commission, and then, for 16 years, Patron‎ of the Centre, which is based at McGill University in Montreal, Cambridge University, the University of Nairobi, and the University of Chile.

Weeramantry also founded the Weeramantry International Centre for Peace Education and Research which produced a vast corpus of research and writing based on Weeramantry’s legal knowledge and philosophy for humanity.

Judge Weeramantry received a number of prestigious awards including the Sri Lankabhimanya (highest National Honour of Sri Lanka), Right Livelihood Award (‘Alternative Nobel Peace Prize’) and the UNESCO Peace Education Prize, which he received in recognition of his commitment and concrete undertakings in support of the concept and culture of peace through his career.

With this letter our heartfelt condolences go out to his family. Judge C.G. Weeramantry will be missed as a friend as well as a moral authority.

A Conversation with Kehkashan Basu and Pauline Tangiora

Two women, one mission: Our Councillor Pauline Tangiora and our Youth Ambassador Kehkashan Basu are two inspirational women working to make the world a better place. As a Maori elder, Pauline has been a respected advocate for the environment and indigenous issues for decades in her native New Zealand. Kehkashan is an Indian-born, devoted youth activist living in the United Arab Emirates, frequently travelling across the world to mobilise other young people in the movement for a green future.

During our Annual General Meeting in Hamburg, the two women provided us with an insight into their lives, their work and hopes for the WFC and made one thing clear: You don’t need to become a full-time activist travelling the world to make a difference – change starts at home.

What can we do to make the world a better place?

Kehkashan: Everybody can start by practising a sustainable lifestyle in the simplest way possible, just trying to think about the environmental impacts of everyday activities. If people choose to learn more about sustainability and spread awareness, a lot of things can be done. This also means that people need to respect the rights of others and take their views and opinions seriously.

Pauline: People need to respect each other. That is the first thing we need to teach our children: To respect ourselves and those around us.  It is also important that children are respected by the adults around them. And your actions will probably depend on the environment you live in. I live in a rural area and we have to catch our water and save it. So, everybody could contribute by putting a tank up by their house to catch the rain water. When children come to my house, they don’t turn taps on just like that because they know that water is the life and power of humanity.

Tell us a little bit about what you do

Kehkashan: In 2012, I started my youth organisation called “Green Hope”, which has the objective to carry forward the legacy of sustainable development and green economy by involving the children and youth of my region and also worldwide. We conduct conferences, workshops and academies to educate young people about what they can do to get involved in the sustainable development agenda and how they can spread awareness in their communities. But we don’t just talk about it. We also run small community projects so they can learn by doing. And we spread awareness through music, art, dance and drama because we feel the message is passed on easier that way.

Pauline: Personally, I wouldn’t even call it work. I walk alongside, especially alongside young people. I enjoy hearing their thoughts and ideas – and they listen to mine. I think in such conversations, young and old people can define the problems in the world very clearly. People from my generation should remember that we don’t have all the wisdom just because we are older. We should talk with young people to learn what they want and what they think the future will bring. If we don’t do that, we lose something.

Do you think that women or men are more concerned about the environment or more sensitive towards sustainability issues?

Pauline: In our community, we work together – male and female. We don’t say men are doing things better than women. We thank everyone in our community. We need to make sure that this remains the essence of who we are. And we have had many, many international calls, even from Germany, asking: ‘What can we do, we have a problem’ and I would say: ‘You need to work together. Men and women.’

Kehkashan: I think it really depends on the person and I don’t think it’s gender-specific. I am talking from personal experience. My group has an equal number of guys and girls who are equally passionate about what we do. So I think it really depends on the person as a whole and not their gender.

The Rights of Children commission is doing a really great job to secure the rights of children through national policies and legislation, for example to increase child participation and environmental literacy.

What are your expectations of or hopes for the WFC?

Kehkashan: The Rights of Children commission is doing a really great job to secure the rights of children through national policies and legislation, for example to increase child participation and environmental literacy. I think continuing this work and involving more young people is going to make a big difference in the world.

Pauline: The WFC has a very important role to play in the world, as it is not just working to change things but to actively make them better. And that is important, as you can’t just say “we have to change something”; you have to make things better through concrete action.

What changes have you seen over the years?

Kehkashan: When I started getting involved in sustainable development I was 8 years old. When I was 12, I started my own organisation and I think that was a huge changing point in my life because I learnt that working with others is so much more enjoyable. We can do so much more together to get our voice heard – much more than when we work alone. Our voices together have a much greater impact on society; it is a better way to spread our message.

I often meet people who think we young people cannot make a change, just because of our age! But now, I think our voices have really been heard and we have been able to convince people that the opposite is true.

Pauline: I am trying to represent the views and the concerns of the indigenous people. I am a lonely voice for them. It’s my belief that many people don’t understand the desperate needs of indigenous people worldwide. We had 500 years of colonisation in the Americas, 250 years of colonisation in Australia and 175 without sovereignty of New Zealand. So, where do we start and where do we finish? The indigenous peoples are not asking for much although they have lost their lands, rivers and forest – which is still happening today, for example in the Amazon. So while colonisation is still continuing in this day and age, where is the public in the world looking at?

But there are some positive developments. We had no fish in our river, we had nothing. Still, the local people made an agreement with the government department of conservation and since then, they have been working together to fence off our fish. Now, even visitors want to walk up there to see it.

Indigenous people still have the knowledge, still have their way of doing things. Many of us grew up with a basic understanding of the water, the sky, the storms and the sunshine. Sometimes I feel very sad that many people don’t understand that, don’t see that. We have a lot to offer.

Breakthrough: How to claim back our future

Speech by WFC Founder Jakob von Uexkull
at the IPB World Congress 2016

In the early 1990s a former British government adviser called Sir Peregrine Worsthorne reviewed the Cold War period and his own role in it and was horrified. He realised how easily war could have broken out in Europe in the 1980s through a misunderstanding while the Soviet Union was already dis-integrating. As NATO Policy was to respond to a perceived conventional Soviet attack with nuclear weapons, he envisaged a scenario where President Reagan would have consulted his friend PM Thatcher about starting a nuclear war and she would have asked him, as her advisor, and he would have adviced her to go ahead. Read more

3D-Street Art highlights Global Call for Disarmament

From October 1-3, a three-dimensional street painting of a nuclear missile being fired from the ground was unveiled next to the German Parliament. The art project occurred in conjunction with the opening of an international conference Disarm! For a Climate of Peace – Creating an Action Agenda.

Read more

The View of the World from Europe

Pearce_Catherine_2

A comment by Catherine Pearce, Director of Future Justice and Co-ordinator of the Global Policy Action Plan at the World Future Council.

August, 2016

As a British national, living in the UK, I am witnessing some of the most turbulent, destructive and unsettling moments of my country’s political history. And not only that, but the wider European region is going through some of the most worrying times.

I first began writing this comment a few weeks back. My draft, within a few a days, was already out of date, surpassed by events and fast moving developments.

I want to deconstruct some common myths, raise some uncomfortable realities, and remind ourselves of some fundamental limits, natural and otherwise which we are already bumping up against.

First off, the myth that there can be a view from Europe. There are many, many views. There are commonalities, of course, but Europe is a patchwork of different stories. Europe comprises over 40 countries. There are 28 countries and 24 official languages in the EU alone. It demonstrates a strong diversity of histories, cultures, identities, political views, realities and priorities. And it doesn’t stop there. Our views and perspectives are also informed by our neighbours: Africa, Russia, the Middle East. What is happening, immediately beyond our borders is perhaps posing the largest tension and conflict for Europe today.

One could argue that the painful and extended efforts to fix the EU project has provided a dangerous distraction. Whether it be saving the Euro or retaining its membership, the EU at least, has neglected or simply failed to respond to critical events around us.

Turning to the UK referendum, the vote divided and split the country on a number of different lines and demographics. By region, by age, by nationality, ethnicity, class even. Based upon certain myths, lies and allegations, the vote has created a fragmented country, threatening to split up the kingdom.

The truth is however that the “Brussels” against which British voters rebelled is a bureaucracy answerable to 28 contentious governments that has never constrained British sovereignty in defense or fiscal policy, or in dealing with refugees from outside the EU. And as the Brits will soon realize to our regret, we benefited handsomely from participating in a large common market.

Image by Jeff Djevdet (CC BY 2.0)

Image by Jeff Djevdet (CC BY 2.0)

All that has been amply chronicled, along with the real motives behind the Leave vote: the sense among older, provincial, white voters, the ‘middle Englanders’ that they are somehow being marginalized by globalization; they had been driven by a nostalgia for a simpler and often mythical past.

Certainly, there are valid points about the European Union and about globalization to which politicians should pay heed. But that isn’t why Leave won. It won because demagogic, charlatan politicians like Nigel Farage of the UK Independence Party, and Boris Johnson, our newly appointed Foreign Secretary had no scruples about playing on base fears that ‘swarms’ of people of different colours and religions were threatening to overwhelm the native way of life. That is also Mr Trump’s refrain and the core message of right-wing demagogues across Europe, from Marine Le Pen in France to Geert Wilders in the Netherlands.

Ironically, after outsourcing our trade powers to Brussels for the last 43 years, the UK is now relying on the expertise of foreign trade negotiators – as Whitehall looks to recruit foreign nationals, experienced in trade negotiations, to help us. So much for ‘taking back control’!

While the UK vote has brought increased support for the EU in other parts of the region, it has also catalysed fragmentation as other EU countries seek to hold their own referendums. The Catalan government has recently intensified its war of words with Spain by vowing to use its democratic mandate to forge a long standing call for a separate Catalan state, with or without the approval of Madrid.

I could write at length about the political turmoil the EU has been plunged into via the Brexit vote, however I want to turn to immigration. An inflammatory issue that stirred up and played on emotions during the referendum and reaches the heart, and indeed the borders of Europe. It also brings into question the relationship that Europe has with the rest of the world.

The movement of people into Europe is happening on an unprecedented level since World War II. Europe has become the 21st-century destination of choice for the war-ravaged, the persecuted, the displaced, the homeless and the penniless from numerous less fortunate and less stable lands.

The International Organization for Migration estimates that over a million migrants arrived by sea in 2015, and almost 35,000 by land. And those figures are only the official records, many more arrive undetected.

Though its suffering is horrendous, Syria is but one of many disaster areas whose collective woes have led some experienced observers to assert that 2016 is already the worst year for humanitarian crises in living memory. Nearly all these crises potentially affect Europe.

Europe’s resources, capacities and attitudes are being tested, as the numbers of people, either moving through, or requesting asylum increase. So far, our response has been pitiful. Last September, Austria’s Chancellor compared Hungary’s treatment of refugees to the ordeal of Jews under the Nazis. Werner Faymann, a Social Democrat, launched a blistering attack on the handling of the migration crisis by Viktor Orban, the Hungarian prime minister. Mr Faymann is reported to have said “Refugees put on trains in the belief they are going somewhere else entirely brings back memories of the darkest period of our continent,”

Racism and xenophobia are on the rise. In the week before and the week after the UK vote, reports to the police of racial hate crime increased by 42%, probably the highest ever recorded. Some had assumed that the Brexit vote had given them a free licence for open racism.

How secular, or mostly Christian Europe will cope with the mass migration, largely from Muslim Africa and the Middle East is now the dominant common factor at the heart of national politics across the region.

Recent horrific attacks in France and Germany also, inevitably give rise to the concern of opening our doors to potential terrorists, and creating our own ‘enemy within’.

Greece has been on the frontline of the mass movement of people. Greece, a country already on its knees economically, socially and politically, barely able to serve its own people. A country on the edge of the EU, quite literally, which has been on the receiving end of such draconian and harsh measures from Brussels, that a referendum resulted in a clear refusal to continue under the EU policies. Yet it was ignored by the governing party. And, despite the widespread suffering of its own, Greece continues to welcome the weak, vulnerable, scared and desperate, escaping some of the worst conflict zones the world has ever seen. These lands of war were, until recently, their home. To leave, with nothing, risking their lives and that of their children’s, not knowing what is ahead, or if they will ever return.

We, the Western world are guilty of the atrocities taking place in these regions. We have all, intentionally or not, assisted in creating the conditions for such dangerously unsettled and unstable parts of the world.

It is certainly grotesque that the UK, a key ally to the US in the Iraq War, and a driver of intervention in the region, now wishes to tightly limit the number refugees arriving, as a result of the conflicts. Meanwhile, Greece was a staunch opponent of the war in Iraq, yet is currently bearing the brunt of its consequences.

Poorly thought through, hawkish actions in Libya, led by French, US and British coalitions has left a country now ‘ungovernable’. To do this anywhere is reckless and foolish. But to do this on Europe’s doorstep denotes such idiocy that one wonders if the conspiracy to break Europe under further stress is so far-fetched. After all, it was not so long ago that David Cameron, as the UK Prime Minister had strenuously called for Turkey’s accession to the EU, hoping to stretch EU capacities even further, something he vehemently denied during the referendum.

There is no doubt that the numbers of people on the move today are nothing, nothing in comparison to what we face as the impacts of climate change really begin to hit.

We are only now beginning to understand how climate change will undermine some of our basic human rights, and we have yet to fully comprehend what this will mean, and the implications for what we all currently take for granted.

El Hierro, Spain.

El Hierro, Spain.

The organisation I work for, the World Future Council, identifies policy solutions to these challenges and helps to spread and implement them. Aware that only a rapid shift to renewable energies can address climate change, we are spreading the most effective law to achieve this – ‘feed-in-tariffs’ rewarding solar and wind energy producers, first introduced in Germany, to other countries.

In the UK, this law has increased solar PV production rapidly – although we are not a very sunny country. We are now showing policy-makers that 100% renewables is possible, taking them to places like the Spanish Canary island of El Hierro where it is already the case, and the lights haven’t gone off.

Of course, such changes require ecologically literate people and here, Europe can learn from the US. The Environmental Literacy Standards of the state of Maryland are the best worldwide, as they are a high school graduation requirement, and we are working to introduce them in Europe.

Outdoor education in Maryland, US.

Outdoor education in Maryland, US.

Less than a day into the job, UK Prime Minister May’s shocking decision to shut down DECC, the Department for Energy and Climate Change, brought accusations of downgrading our country’s efforts on climate change, of not taking the issue seriously. Climate has been eaten up by a newly beefed up business department, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Personally, I have never been entirely convinced by the UK government’s leadership on climate change. But in this case, climate appears to have been demoted. The move does little to reassure business, poised to invest in a renewable future, or to the broader, international community of our climate commitments, especially our COP21 pledges.

Ministries and their structures indeed shape the priorities and direction of a government, however, commitment can be demonstrated by more than just a name. Leadership from recently appointed Climate Minister Nick Hurd and the State Secretary Greg Clark can go some way in making sure climate change is elevated and hardwired into the new department. Both their records on climate are good, but it remains to be seen if they will be climate champions in the face of conflicting priorities. It has been assumed that the new department holds more power and influence than DECC, however in the face of the new Government, complete with a large number of prominent climate skeptics, it suggests we will witness a series of tug of wars.

The freeze last week, on the go ahead on the controversial Hinkley nuclear power station, at the eleventh hour, to read the small print, leads one to wonder, perhaps naively, if this presents the shift from outdated, centralised energy to distributed renewables and smart grids.

15,000 nuclear weapons are held in the arsenals of the nine nuclear-armed states. The US and Russia are responsible for 95% of those weapons, 10% of which are on what is called ‘hair-trigger alert’ – a policy left over from the Cold War, which allows these weapons to go flying within minutes of an attack being logged.

Five European states continue to host US ‘tactical nuclear weapons’. Even though every military commander agrees they serve no military purpose and can never be used, the US is about to spend $10 billion to modernise this arsenal.

The terminology in the UK Trident debate was skewed. Click to read more.

Click to read more about the skewed terminology used in the UK Trident debate.

The British Parliament, recently held a debate on our Trident nuclear programme. It was held thanks to outgoing Prime Minister Cameron, wishing to send a signal to the international community that we remain a player on the world stage, perversely through showcasing our stockpile of nuclear weaponry, and as well, knowing it would split the opposition, the Labour Party further still. During the debate, Prime Minister, Theresa May said she would be willing to authorise a nuclear strike that could kill 100,000 people. To gasps across the chamber, May confirmed she would be prepared to press the nuclear button if necessary as she opened the debate about whether the UK should spend up to £200bn replacing four submarines that carry nuclear warheads. “The whole point of a deterrent is that our enemies need to know that we would be prepared to use it”. These types of adversarial policies stand in the way of the unprecedented cooperation we need to tackle transnational challenges.

The World Future Council recently published a study on the Climate-Nuclear-Nexus, showing the inter-linkages between these two global security threats. Many policy-makers are very worried about this and the Inter-Parliamentary Union, based in Geneva, which brings together almost all parliamentarians in the world, asked the World Future Council to produce a handbook on exemplary nuclear disarmament policies.

Argentina’s National Programme for the Voluntary Surrender of Firearms, paved the way for a highly successful firearms and ammunition buyback and also promotes a culture of non-violence and peaceful conflict resolution. My colleague Rob van Riet brought this policy to Bosnia, a country still suffering from the animosities of the civil war 20 years ago.

The trade in weaponry, from Europe is adding to escalating conflict and wars in neighbouring countries. Since the escalation of the Syrian conflict in 2012, eight countries, including the Czech Republic and Romania have approved €1.2bn of weapons and ammunition exports to Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and Turkey – key arms markets for Syria and Yemen. Eight European countries that fiercely opposed to receive refugees in the EU are the very same ones that are profiting from the war.

Allow me to turn to the obvious and uncomfortable parallels arising between the UK and the US. The UK referendum debate was based upon lies, propaganda and untruths. Tidy, appealing slogans such as ‘taking back control’ used during the referendum are being echoed in the US presidential race.

The Republican convention used the outcome of the UK vote to justify and intensify the patriotic, vitriolic fist pumping hysteria ‘to take back America’. The witch hunt on Clinton generated during those debates sat very uneasily for me. In the UK, we are still mourning the loss of one of our brightest and most inspiring political figures, Jo Cox MP, assassinated in her own constituency for her views. Some Labour MPs, particularly women, also continue to receive death threats, personal attacks and intimidation.

Trump, and many UK politicians leading the Brexit campaign have unleashed, and fuelled an almighty rage and anger based on fear. Regretfully, pandora’s box has been opened.

The fact that these fires are burning in two of the most unequal countries and societies should be no surprise. As human beings, we have deep-seated psychological responses to inequality and social hierarchy. The tendency to equate outward wealth with inner worth means that inequality colours our social perceptions. It invokes feelings of superiority and inferiority, dominance and subordination – which affect the way we relate to and treat each other. As well as health and violence, almost all the problems that are more common at the bottom of the social ladder are more common in more unequal societies – including mental illness, drug addiction, obesity, loss of community life, imprisonment, unequal opportunities and poorer wellbeing for children. The effects are not confined to the poor. Inequality is bad for everyone. It eats away at the social fabric of the whole society.

We need to find it in ourselves to think the unthinkable. Both of the negative, as hard and uncomfortable as that may be, of some unimaginable outcomes, but of the good too, of what we can achieve, together, if we are to turn things around.

Among other deficits, our democracy has become a dictatorship of the present, with no-one representing the interests of future generations.

Our ancestors thought differently, the most famous example being the Native American principle that the impact of any decision on the 7th generation to come had to be taken into account.

My work in the World Future Council has focused on reviving this principle, by establishing guardians for future generations. Hungary established a Parliamentary Commissioner for Future Generations in 2007 and last year, we helped to set up a similar institution in Wales.

We have also worked since Rio 2012 to establish a UN High Commissioner for Future Generations, an initiative now being discussed at the UN High Level Political Forum.

Thanks to the internet we believe we are engaging with the world around us like never before. This could not be more true for the millennials as they feel disconnected from the democratic systems designed to service them. Yet, in reality, our worlds are shrinking into the online bubble we wish to identify ourselves with. We know the platforms we can turn to in order to validate ourselves and affirm our views. Many Britons woke up on the 24 June and did not recognise the country they lived in. The online community they depended on and fed off, served only to feed their own beliefs and value systems.

The pace of change in technology, globalization and climate has started to outrun the ability of our political systems to build the social, educational, community, workplace and political innovations needed for citizens to keep up.

“Political power in the West has been failing its own test of legitimacy and accountability since 2008 — and in its desperation has chosen to erode it further by unforgivably abdicating responsibility through the use of a referendum on the EU,” said Nader Mousavizadeh, who co-leads the London-based global consulting firm Macro Advisory Partners.

After the destruction of World War II, the EU project emerged as a force for peace, prosperity, democracy and freedom in the world. This is one of our great achievements. Rather than let it be destroyed we must use the shock of the Brexit vote to reimagine, reform, and rebuild a new Europe.

We are all, Europe. We are all, America. We are all black. We are all refugees. The challenges we face know no borders. They transcend nationality. They transcend race. They transcend age, ethnicity and they transcend political lines.

Let us think the unthinkable.

The Brexit Chaos

Last weekend the CEO of Nasdaq complained in the Wall Street Journal about ‘The Overblown Brexit Market Panic’. Repeating the absurdity that the vote has created an “independent Britain”, as if the EU is a colonial power, he assured readers that “over the next two years, the timeline for EU withdrawal, Britain has an opportunity to become a trading magnet”.

It is rare to find so many errors and misunderstandings in such a short space. First, there is no panic because there has been no Brexit, only a non-binding referendum. This generated a small pro-Leave majority, which – according to numerous polls since – would not be repeated today.

Britain is a representative democracy with a sovereign parliament which chose to make this referendum non-binding. The Prime Minister who promised to implement it has since resigned. While the House of Commons could find strong reasons to ignore the vote, they will not (yet) dare to do so because of the fanaticism of the Brexiteers. Thus, Dominic Lawson, a columnist in the ‘Sunday Times’ has claimed (July 3rd), that ignoring the vote would cause such anger that “we could see tanks on the streets”.

So what is the most likely outcome? Will the British Parliament pass Brexit legislation, which most of its members do not believe in? The current House of Commons has a large pro-EU majority and it is unlikely that this will change after the next election.

So for now, it is likely that the process of the UK leaving the EU will go ahead, despite the growing opposition. Over 1000 lawyers have called for an independent body to examine the consequences, followed by a parliamentary vote.

Before the referendum, David Cameron said that the UK would trigger the EU exit clause (Article 50) quickly after a Brexit vote. Today this date is receding ever further into the future, with government ministers not wanting it triggered until the end of the year or even next year. Why? Because, having no Brexit plan, they have only now realized the complexities of unravelling 40 years of EU membership. As the Article 50 timetable stipulates that the UK will be outside the EU two years after triggering it, they are panicking that this will leave them without an alternative arrangement and at the mercy of their ex-partners. (Unanimity would be required to extend this two-year period). Experts have calculated that concluding negotiations and passing the required legislation may take seven years. The Austrian Minister of Finance experts Britain to still be an EU member in five years’ time…

As for negotiating new trade agreements, this may take even longer. For decades such agreements have been concluded at the EU level and the UK no longer has the required expertise. Last week, the media reported that New Zealand had offered to help out by lending London some trade negotiators…

While there is yet no panic, the Brexit insecurity is growing: “Sterling falls despite reassurance”, “Banks promise to boost lending to stop Britain falling into recession” (both headlines in the “Daily Telegraph”, July, 6th), and “Brexit vote may be the undoing of Italian Banks” (“City am”, July 6th). One of this paper’s columnists recommends that the UK adopts the cold war UN strategy of Stalin’s Foreign Minister Molotov and turns up at the EU Council of Ministers to “veto every proposal on any subject whatsoever, regardless of its merit”, until the EU agrees to Brexit negotiations before the UK has triggered the Article 50 exit clause.

One can only imagine the animosity and harm this will cause. Already, xenophobic and racist incidents have surged in the UK since the referendum. The vote has also created new inter-generational conflicts. Most young Britons voted to remain in the EU and many are furious with parents and grand-parents for depriving them of their freedom to live and work in other European countries.

So, as a result of holding this referendum at a time of strong anti-government feelings, and resentment against the privileged establishment after years of austerity, and promising to implement a non-binding vote come what may, the UK and EU now face many years of turmoil and disruption. At a time when many urgent issues — climate change, economic instability, terrorism, the refugee crisis, a resurgent Russia etc. — require the attention of European decision-makers, they will be busy unravelling the details of the UK’s EU membership and implementing alternatives. The simplest, guaranteeing continued full UK access to the EU market, would involve joining Norway and Iceland in the European Economic Area (EEA). Yet the UK will soon find that this involves accepting most EU laws and obligations — including free movement – but with no ability to influence them, and at equivalent financial costs for EU membership. The UK may believe it can get a special deal but this is very unlikely as the other members – who would all need to approve the outcome — would not want to create precedents.

So what is the most likely outcome? Will the British Parliament pass Brexit legislation, which most of its members do not believe in? The current House of Commons has a large pro-EU majority and it is unlikely that this will change after the next election.

The more time elapses since the Brexit vote, the more likely it is that MPs will assert their primary duty to act in the best interests of their country. This will particularly be the case if Scotland moves towards independence and the peace in Northern Ireland is threatened by Brexit, which will necessitate border controls between N. Ireland and the Republic.

In such a case it would be very surprising if MPs did not prioritize the peace and integrity of the UK above a non-binding vote taken years ago.

So, while it is likely that Article 50 will be triggered to appease the Brexit fanatics, it is even more likely that it will later be rescinded, i.e. that the UK withdraws its application to leave in a few years time. International treaty law allows this. Of course, this would require reversing the complex legislative process, wasting more years and risking more vetos along the way. David Cameron’s foolishness and arrogance will cost his country and Europe dear.

So what about immigration? Of course problems arise when health and educational facilities face years of under-funding due to austerity policies. But there can be little doubt that media anti-immigrant propaganda played a greater role in the referendum than actual immigration. I live in London which often really feels overcrowded with foreigners. But London voted to remain. On the other hand, areas of Britain which seem “unchanged since the 1950s” (to quote a retired lawyer living in Cheshire) voted to leave, despite very few immigrants. Voters there read the “Sun”, “Daily Mail” or “Daily Telegraph”, which worked hard to convince them that this was their last chance to stop the mass invasion of dreaded foreigners reaching their village…

“Solutions exist, it is up to us to overcome silo thinking”

Excellencies, Members of Parliament, dear Friends, dear Children,

A few years ago I spoke to a young audience in Canada about the global environment, when a teenage boy suddenly stood up and ran out of the room, shouting “Thanks a lot for leaving us a world like that!” So it is not easy to speak the truth about the state of our world to an audience like this.

I call myself a possibilist, for I know that solutions exist. But implementing them will require more allies than General Facebook and Admiral Twitter. Social Media are a great means but change requires power and this means getting engaged in public and political action. There are many examples of children and youths shaming their parents and decision-makers into changing course…

The World Future Council works to establish parliamentary Guardians of Future Generations – and a UN High Commissioner – with the mandate to ensure that our decisions, laws and agreements respect our responsibilities to them. We have developed a Global Policy Action Plan – a first attempt to bring together the key policy changes we need to tackle the major inter-linked challenges we face.

Our Future Policy Award, “the Oscar for best laws”, which we present in close collaboration with the UN and the IPU, last year honoured the best laws protecting the rights of children. The top award went to Zanzibar’s pioneering Children’s Act which includes an innovative programme of community-level child participation and peer-to-peer learning, in line with SDG 16 and 17 on inclusive decision-making. Another award went to the environmental education regulations of Maryland (USA) which mandate that all students must be environmentally literate when graduating, in line with SDG 4 calling for education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles.

Our Youth Ambassador, Kehkasan Basu from the UAE, was honoured by the Voices of Future Generations last year and I am very glad that this project is now attracting exciting stories from young authors in Asia, Africa and Latin America!

The good news is that solutions already exist for the major threats facing us. It is up to us to overcome our compartmentalised silo thinking and start focusing on the “how”, to implement these inter-connected solutions.

The UN SDGs provide an important agreed framework for action. But they contain a basic conflict, as continued economic growth threatens to destroy our natural environment, on which all life depends, long before the poverty abolition goals are reached. We must therefore build societies and economies of sharing and co-operation. There is no alternative, for you cannot negotiate with melting glaciers or spreading deserts.

With sufficient pressure, new paths to a shared, flourishing global future can be opened up quickly. In a crisis big steps are often easier than small steps because they inspire and mobilise.

On this path, you, our children, play a key role for you have not yet been conditioned into silo thinking but retain a sense of wholeness and wonder and (I hope!) a trust that you have the power to change the world!

These powerful books of our child authors provide not just hope that there are different ways but provide practical guides for the challenges ahead. They will help reframe and deepen the debate about our shared future. Thank you very much!

With his speech Jakob von Uexkull adressed UN agencies such as UNESCO, UNICEF, UNEP, UN SDG child ambassadors and children from local schools at the Houses or Parliament for the event “Children share visions of a just future” in London. The event was jointly hosted by the Voices of Future Generations initiative and the Mary Robinson Foundation at the Houses of Parliament in Westminster. The children offered insightful views on issues such as gender equality, climate change, human rights and access to education and emphasised the need for children to know about their rights, as set out in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

WFC Councillor receives prestigious award

Dr Marie-Claire Cordonier Segger honoured with 2016 Justitia Regnorum Fundamentum Award

The award, founded by the Ombudsmen of the United Nations Human Rights Commission of Hungary in 2007, is granted for exemplary, outstanding achievement and professional  activities carried out in the field of protection of human rights, including the rights of future generations, and is presented each year on the occasion of the anniversary of the  establishment of the Ombudsman institution.

WFC Councillor Dr. Cordonier Segger received the award for her achievements spanning two decades representing the interests of future generations and environmental protection, climate change, biodiversity, natural resources, and sustainable development, for her contributions as senior legal counsel and member of important global institutions for environmental and social justice, for her tireless efforts in development of treaty law and jurisprudence, and for her commitment to enlightening and mentoring a new global generation of international lawyers through editing and authoring over 80 publications, lecturing in prestigious universities, and founding international neducational institutions and initiatives.

Other award recipients in 2016 included Mr Ferenc Snétberger, a Hungarian guitar artist of Roma origin, one of the worlds most renowned Roma jazz musicians. Besides receiving numerous awards, he is famous for his achievements in supporting, encouraging and mentoring musical talents from disadvantaged background, including the founding of a truly outstanding music school in 2011 by Lake Balaton.

History has knocked very loudly on our door. Will we answer?

World Future Forum 2016 – Opening Speech by Jakob von Uexkull

 

We may all be doing our best but, as Winston Churchill said: “In a crisis, it is not enough to do our best – we have to do what is necessary”. Today we are heading for unprecedented dangers and conflicts, up to and including the end of a habitable planet in the foreseeable future, depriving all future generations of their right to life and the lives of preceding generations of meaning and purpose.

This apocalyptic reality is the elephant in the room. Current policies threaten temperature increases triggering permafrost melting and the release of ocean methane hydrates which would make our earth unliveable, according to research presented by the British Government Met office at the Paris Climate Conference.

Long before that point, our prosperity, security, culture and identity will disintegrate. A Europe unable to cope with a few million war refugees will collapse under the weight of tens or even hundreds of millions of climate refugees.

While scientists are increasingly in a state of panic about the state of the environment, the media – prone to exaggerate other news – downplay catastrophic threats to the planet. When the London “Times” provided a realistic overview recently (15.04.2015), it felt obliged to include the phone number of the Samaritans for those feeling distressed after reading it. One wonders how the Samaritans dealt with those calls!

Last month, N.Y. Times columnist Paul Krugman, after noting that climate change “just keeps getting scarier” asked: “So what’s really at stake in this year’s (US) election? Well, among other things, the fate of the planet.” A study by the US National Academy of Sciences last year concluded that claims of “de-coupling” economic growth from growing CO2 emissions and resource consumption, i.e. that we can consume more and conserve more at the same time, have  been based on false accounting, under-estimating  the raw materials required to create the products counted. (The Guardian, 25.11.2015).

So why have we not already formed an emergency alliance to do everything humanly possible to stop and reverse course?

Why have we not identified a hierarchy of risks and developed a common narrative and strategy? These are questions I often hear, especially from the young, for whom the work of the World Future Council and its members provides rare hope that they still have a future.

Despite many challenges, the World Future Council (WFC) has achieved remarkable successes. Today it is widely acknowledged for its work spreading exemplary policies and the holistic perspective embodied by its members. As a result, to quote one of our partner organisations, the WFC has “outstanding convening power”.

The WFC has developed a remarkable sense for future themes. Even unorthodox proposals, such as money creation, the political representation of future generations, and 100% renewable energy targets are now debated in many fora. Our work has become an important reference point, both for popular authors, researchers and UN organisations. We have developed three iconic cross-silo projects: the Future Policy Award (FPA), the Future of Cities Forum (FCF) and the Global Policy Action Plan (GPACT).

Our world today is different from when we last met a few years ago. The basic argument has since been won. As a columnist in the right-wing British “Daily Telegraph” wrote recently (17.12.2015): “Whether or not you accept the hypothesis of man-made global warming is irrelevant. The (Chinese ) Politburo does accept it. So does President Xi Jinping…This political fact is shattering for the global fossil industry and the economics of energy”. What happened? The Himalayan glaciers and Tibet’s permafrost are melting, threatening key Chinese water supplies.

The coal lobby is already seeing the writing on the wall: “We will be hated and vilified in the same way slave traders were”, says the Secretary-General of the EU coal industry organisation (FT 16.12.15).

At the recent opening conference of the new WFC office in China it was very obvious that the Chinese authorities take the climate threat very seriously and are looking for solutions and partners.

Tragically, in the USA, this is not yet the case, with Donald Trump claiming climate change is a “Chinese hoax”. For, to quote the Wall Street Journal (03.08.2015): “If anthropogenic climate change is a reality, then that would be a huge problem only government could deal with. It would be a heaven-sent opportunity for the left to vastly increase government control over the economy and the personal lives of citizens.”

The myth that climate change is conspiracy to reduce freedom is spread by a powerful and greedy elite which has largely captured governments to preserve their privileges in an increasingly unequal world.

The real history of the past 40 years shows that the often disputed Limits To Growth report was prophetic, even for the USA: “The median US household income in 2014 was $50.000. If we had maintained pre-1970 productivity growth, it would have been $97.300” (FT 20.2.16).

As a result the USA is now facing a youth revolt, with young voters backing a socialist and more of them having a positive view of socialism than of capitalism (NYT 02.12.2015).

But in many ways this is a conservative revolt against an insecure future, opposed to the disruptions of recent decades, including globalisation, corporate “personhood” and the resulting un-affordability of their parents’ American dream.

The promised technological revolution does not excite them which is probably a good thing, for, to quote WFC councillor Rolf Kreibich, “there is not a single reference to sustainable development in the whole Big Data and Smart Data debate”.  Techno-Stress is causing falling gadget sales, while in Japan, “people are becoming distrustful of technologies in a broad sense, as they are now often associated with fakeness and futility.”

The new “satori” generation, is anti-consumerist and looking for “enlightenment” (Baku Eye, May 2014).

They and their peers in Europe and the USA are “less likely to endorse the importance of democracy; less likely to express trust in democratic institutions.” (World Values Survey, 2015).

This is not surprising when policy-makers decide based on cost-benefit-analyses provided by economists, whose models are ideological, serving the interest of the privileged and discounting away the needs of future generations. Their tunnel vision fails to see that our economies depend on functioning ecosystems, whose collapse does not just destroy current GDP but the natural capital on which all future GDP depends.

Thus, their widely used DICE model calculates that, even a disastrous +4°C temperature increase would only  reduce GDP by 4% and a +6°C increase reduce it by less than 10%, although predicted to make large parts of the planet uninhabitable. In such models, Africa could be gone but global GDP still increase…

No religious dogma is as powerful and dangerous as the dogmas of economists who assume that we will all become richer even on a burning planet!

This dangerous nonsense still rules and even the UN SDG strategy suffers from it. “Given the existing ratio between GDP growth and the income growth of the poorest, it will take 207 years to eliminate poverty with this strategy, and to get there, we will have to grow the global economy by 175 times its present size.” – an obvious impossibility. (Seeds of Change, Vol. 32, No.1, Jan-April 2016, p. 15) The SDG Goal 17.1 calls for more trade liberalisation and power for the WTO – although environmental threats mandate the opposite: boarder tax adjustments to stop environmental dumping.

How is it possible that we have lived so long according to this narrative which dis-connects us from our earth and now threatens our survival? In 1980 the US Heritage Foundation used the election of Ronald Reagan to impose the agenda still ruling the world, organizing 20 project teams involving 300 participants to develop policy recommendations for all government departments. These were published in a 1000 page book, “Mandate for Leadership: Policy Management in a Conservative Administration”. There was of course nothing “conservative” about the radical disruptions planned. But the recommendations were well argued, and many were implemented, as there was nothing available to counter them. To quote Margaret Thatcher: “Economics is the method: the object is to change the soul”. (Sunday Times, 01.05.81).

Today, even the business publication Forbes acknowledges that “Capitalism has… devastated the planed and has failed to improve human well-being at scale” (09.02.16). So the awareness has been raised and we now need a methodology how to end this devastation. While we do not have the resources the Heritage Foundation has accumulated, at the expense of people and planet, we will have many allies on the path to Earth Trusteeship and Earth Justice.

But we need to re-think what we have done so far, not because it is wrong, but because it is no longer a sufficient response to the Earth Emergency. Asked at a recent conference why she was talking about climate change and not about jobs, trade union leader Sharan Burrow replied: “Because there are no jobs on a dead planet!” The eco-industrial transformation will of course generate many millions of new jobs, but she understands the hierarchy of risks and dangers…

Our challenge is immense but not new. “There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order to things. Because the innovation has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new” – to quote Macchiavelli’s ‘The Prince’, published in 1532.

As I said, we have many powerful allies

  • our living planet which can still respond and recover if we change course before irreversible tripping-points are reached.
  • the youth of the world who see that the promises of the current global narrative are hollow and are in search of credible alternative.
  • the global unprotected who are realizing that, while the new world order claims to have no ceiling, it definitely has no floor.
  • our ancestors who have put their trust in us to ensure that their lives and achievements have not been in vain

and

  • all future generations of life on earth who are rooting for our success as we have the historically unprecedented power to decide if and how they will live!

The WFC Global Policy Action Plan (GPACT) is our manual for responsible leadership. It summarizes key policy recommendations for people and planet, now under threat from the consequences of the Heritage Foundation policies. It aims to replace the Washington Consensus – now increasingly rejected – with a new consensus, which may become known as the Hamburg consensus!

The fallacies and contradictions of the old narrative have been exposed and changes required discussed at great length.

We must now build new alliances, moving beyond the infighting, backbiting, bureaucracies, narrowness and jealousy so prevalent among NGOs and their supporters.

The WFC has shown that it has the ability to initiate new coalitions, not because we know more or better, but because we build on what the international community has already agreed to, but failed to implement. We work to close the gaps between inter-connected crises still treated as separate by activists and funders, the gaps between policy research and the advice required by policy-makers, the gaps between rights agreed, e.g. in the UN World Charter For Nature, and their legal implementation. As the defenders of privilege know (but we often forget), the devil is in the policy detail!

Many, in business and civil society, prefer easier to achieve voluntary self-regulation. The recent first global over-view of self-regulation proves them wrong, showing that in 82% of the schemes assessed, voluntary measures failed.

The level of protection delivered was much lower than a law would have delivered. A Welsh charge on plastic bags cut their use overnight by 80% while an English voluntary measure achieved a 6% drop in seven years… (The Guardian, 4.11.2015).

In many areas, legislation will be a challenge. The easy win-win scenarios are often a myth. The Climate Legacy Initiative concludes that the taxation required to lead to adequate demand reduction will cause “significant social pain”. Politicians fear their voters rebelling, yet need to understand that nature rebelling will be a more serious matter, for we cannot negotiate with melting glaciers or spreading deserts.

The acclaimed economist Dambisa Moyo laments “an erosion of productivity around the world”, which she cannot understand, describing it as “really weird”.

Considering the urgent needs of people and planet on the one hand and growing global unemployment on the other, this “weirdness” clearly has a cause, namely the perverse dogmas worshipped by Moyo and her fellow economists.

They claim that the now urgent reforms are too expensive, implying that we cannot afford to live on this planet. But whatever a society has the human and natural resources to produce, it can also finance. The WFC Future Finance team has, over the past two years, produced several ground-breaking reports exposing the ruling fallacies and how to remedy them.

First, we need real world accounting. The unused global renewable energy potential wastes trillions of dollars annually. Yet, while every coal mine closed is lamented as a waste of industrial capital, the immensely larger destruction of natural capital caused by not maximising renewable energy production has been ignored – until the WFC calculated it.

Creating (“printing”) new money by central banks to save the financial system was quickly accepted. Yet funding the urgent transition to sustainable and regenerative societies in the same way, has been a political taboo, until the WFC showed last year how this can be done to fund the production of new goods and services: 100% renewable energy, retrofitting buildings, sustainable transport systems, etc. – also generating millions of jobs in the Global South, reducing the pressures to migrate in order to survive.

Our shared future requires a cohesive plan for step-by-step policy reform and the WFC GPACT is the first attempt to design one – not the usual endless wish list, but a priority policy instruction manual, building, wherever possible, on national and regional policies already working, analysed by us, according to the principles of Future Just Lawmaking already agreed by the international community.

GPACT summarizes the minimum policy reforms required to build a world where solutions can again grow faster than problems. It aims to enable such a world, not pretend that we already know all the solutions. As Martin Luther King said, laws do not move the heart, but they restrain the heartless – those who have built the dictatorship of the present benefitting them at the expense of the future of life on earth.

GPACT sets out the path and the milestones to a sustainable future:

1. Environmental Education
We have identified the best law – from Maryland, USA – and are now working to spread it.
We have also identified the best programmes to teach environmental literacy in business schools and to students of economics (see futurepolicy.org).

2. Revitalising democracy
We are have identified and researched the exemplary Icelandic law, which ensures that private money cannot buy elections. Spreading this will be a huge exciting challenge.

3. Adopting alternative progress indicators
Again, a small country, Bhutan, took the lead. The EU BRAINPOoL project, in which the WFC participated, shows the way ahead. We also need to reform accounting standards and mandate longer time horizons for credit rating agencies.

4. Ensure the political representation of the needs of future generations
The WFC played a key role in building the exemplary Welsh legislation, based inter alia on the experiences of the pioneering Hungarian Parliamentary Ombudsperson for Future Generations, WFC Councillor Sándor Fülöp.

5. Ending crimes against future generations
We have identified pioneering judgments and the obstacles facing their implementation.

6. Re-direct military spending and foster a culture of peace
The WFC Peace and Disarmament Commission has produced a handbook on nuclear disarmament policies for the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and initiated a broader security debate by highlighting the links between climate and nuclear risks. It has also brought the Argentinean programme for the surrender of firearms to Bosnia.

7. Incentivize the shift to 100% renewable energy production
The WFC’s unique role in spreading best policies, especially feed-in-tariffs, is widely recognized, and has included over 100 hearings with parliamentarians from over 50 countries.

8. Regenerative Cities
Our best policy programme has been presented to decision-makers in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and China and we are now preparing to introduce this at Habitat III.

Our new office and credibility in China offer exciting possibilities. There are now exemplary Chinese laws, e.g. ensuring that profits from falling oil prices are retained by the government to fund conservation and anti-pollution measures.

9. Preserve healthy eco-systems
Ocean acidity is now increasing at ten times the highest rate during the past 56 million years. We must strengthen and spread the Law of the Sea, as well as the exemplary other ocean, forestry and biodiversity laws from Palau, Rwanda and Costa Rica, which we have honoured with the Future Policy Award.

10. Green tax reform including carbon taxes
We must shift taxation to what is bad and scarce. Good policy examples can be found on our special website for policy-makers, futurepolicy.org. We also work to spread policies which ensure that our financial system enables real wealth creation and no longer favours speculation and debt.

11. Liberating enterprise
Human ingenuity and risk-taking must be incentivized to serve the common good. Benefit corporations (Maryland, USA), the TOP Runner programme (Japan) and the Cradle-To-Cradle design principles provide examples ready to be replicated.

12. Protect the vulnerable
During the unavoidable chaotic transition now coming, it is vital that we protect children, women and the large and increasing numbers of persons with disabilities worldwide. The WFC has identified and honoured and works to spread exemplary policies for the right to food (Belo Horizonte) and child safety (Zanzibar Act), to protect women and girls against violence (2014 FPA winning policies) and abolishing barriers for persons with disabilities (Zero project/ WFC policies).

The benefits of tackling these inter-connected challenges jointly are obvious. But while the WFC can bridge policy implementation gaps, the bottom-up pressure on policy-makers must increase to help them to withstand the lobbyists of the status quo.

We are now working to find the resources and allies to initiate – to quote Naomi Klein “a spasm of rapid-fire law-making, with one breakthrough after another”.

The moral revolution which ended slavery was not achieved just by petitions, nor will the transformation now urgent be won by General Twitter and Admiral Facebook. You cannot fight massively entrenched power with statistics or appeals to reason alone. Our opponents are poisoning our common well – a capital crime for our ancestors.

To quote the US PR expert Frank Mankiewicz: “The environmentalists are going to have to be like the mob in the square in Romania (which quickly ended the Ceaucescu dictatorship) before they prevail.”

We also need to project a powerful and attractive vision of our shared future as earth citizens, in a world of scarce resources. It will be a world of “fewer car races and more dancing competitions” (Chandran Nair), but a vibrant and flourishing world of education, arts, music, research, sports, spiritual quests and social interaction. My biologist grandfather envisaged that in such a world, life’s meaning would not “be sought behind the objects but behind the subjects”.

Today, the WFC stands at a crossroad. Do we and can we grow up to our potential?

The choice is up to each one of us. History has knocked very loudly on our door. Will we answer?

Working together to end violations of human rights of present and future generations by transnational corporations

JOINT STATEMENT

We, the signatories of this statement, Councillors and Ambassadors of the World Future Council, call on all governments to step up action in order to fill the existing gaps in international law to prevent human rights violations perpetrated by transnational corporations and other business enterprises, and to hold them accountable.

BACKGROUND
The role of transnational corporations (TNCs) has exponentially expanded over the last few decades. Value chains (i.e. intra-firm or inter-firm, regional or global, and commonly referred to as “global value chains, or GVCs) are shaped by TNCs that account for around 80 per cent of global trade. Serious and wide scale abuses committed by TNCs remain unpunished to this day, as well as flagrant human rights violations caused by operations of TNC and other business enterprises. Despite the seriousness of the human rights violations that transnational corporations commit, the international community has not been able to create specific legally binding norms for TNCs within the framework of international human rights law. While TNCs are granted rights through hard law instruments, such as bilateral investment treaties and investment rules in free trade agreements, and have access to a system of investor-state dispute settlements, there are no hard law instruments that address the obligations of corporations to respect human rights.

In consequence, concerns about elusive progress in achieving access to remedy for victims of corporate-related human rights abuse must be urgently addressed. Our economies and politics need to put people and the planet – not corporations – first. To this end, it is vital to reinforce the primacy of human rights and rights of future generations. This includes the right of peoples to live in dignity, and to have access to public services and the commons, as well as the right of everyone to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment. States and Transnational Corporations have the obligation to apply these rights in all areas of political, economic, social, environmental and cultural activities. After a debate that has lasted more than forty years, the UN Human Rights Council has decided to start the negotiation of a legally-binding instrument on TNCs and human rights, a process that has received strong support by civil society, along with more than 1.200 organizations organized under a coalition called the Treaty Alliance. Therefore, establishing legally binding norms that ensure the respect of human rights by transnational corporations and other business enterprises, wherever they operate, is a necessary and urgent step.

OUR CALL

As Councillors and Ambassadors of the World Future Council,

  • We call special attention to the fact that human rights violations by transnational corporations and other business enterprises – often in complicity with the local governments – not only deprive people of their human rights today but also deprive future generations of their rights;
  • We call on governments to make it a priority to guarantee protection against human rights abuse by transnational corporations and other business enterprises, and to ensure compliance, liability and redress;
  • We remind transnational corporations and other business enterprises of their responsibility to respect human rights of present and future generations;
  • We welcome the report of the first session of the open-ended intergovernmental working group on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights during the 31st Regular Session of the UN Human Rights Council;
  • We encourage all UN Member States to comply with the UN Human Rights Council mandate of resolution A/HRC/RES/26/9 adopted in June 26th 2014, and to constructively participate in the negotiation of an International Legally Binding Instrument on Transnational Corporations and Human Rights, in the framework of the Open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group of UN Human Rights Council established for this purpose, as one of the necessary steps to protect human rights;
  • While committing our support and contribution, we encourage all the other relevant stakeholders to provide the necessary independent expertise and expert advice to the Open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group in order to fulfil its mandate and above all to achieve the legitimate and longstanding aspiration of the international community to fill this serious gap in international law.

 


 List of signatories

  • h.c. Maude Barlow, Chairperson, The Council of Canadians; Former Senior Advisor to the UN on water issues
  • Dipal Chandra Barua, Chairperson, Bright Green Energy Foundation
  • Ana María Cetto, Research Professor of the Institute of Physics and lecturer at the Faculty of Sciences, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
  • Shuaib Chalklen, Founder and chairperson of the African Disability Forum and former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Disability, South Africa
  • Tony Colman, Director of Africapractice, Research Fellow of University of Cape Town, Earth Institute at Columbia University, and University of East Anglia
  • Thais Corral, Founder, Sinal do Vale; Co-Founder, Women’s Environment and Development Organization
  • Barbara Doll, Deputy Chair of the WFC Supervisory Board, Gynaecologist
  • Scilla Elworthy, Founder, Oxford Research Group
  • Sándor Fülöp, Former Parliamentary Commissioner for Future Generations in Hungary
  • Rafia Ghubash, President, Arab Network for Women, Science and Technology; former President, Arab Gulf University
  • David Krieger, Co-Founder and President, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation
  • Dr. Alexander Likhotal, President, Green Cross International
  • Rama Mani, Senior Research Associate, Centre for International Studies, University of Oxford; Director, Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect: Southern Cultural Perspectives; Co-Founder, Rising Women Rising World
  • Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Manfred Max-Neef, Professor of Ecological Economics, Universidad Austral de Chile, Pioneer of “Barefoot Economics” and “Human Scale Development”
  • Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, President, Centre of Strategies and Security in the Sahel Sahara; former senior UN Official and Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Somalia
  • Cyril Ritchie, President of CoNGO
  • Barbara Seiller, Member of the WFC Supervisory Board, Entrepreneur and Benefactress
  • Sulak Sivaraksa, Buddhist activist, writer and leading founder of the International Network of Engaged Buddhists (INEB)
  • Pavan Sukhdev, Author – Corporation 2020 & CEO – GIST Advisory
  • Taylor Thomson, WFC Ambassador
  • Alyn Ware, Founder, Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament (PNND)
  • Jakob von Uexkull, Founder and Chair of the Management Board, World Future Council

List of additional signatories (not Members of the World Future Council):

  • Elena Alvarez-Buylla, Professor at Institute of Ecology and Research Coordinator at Center for Complex Studies, UNAM – Unión de Científicos Comprometidos con la Sociedad, http://www.uccs.mx/, Mexico