A Review of Cosmopolitics
The Universal Declaration of Humankind Rights follows a report written by Corinne Lepage on request of French President François Hollande in June 2015. A final version was presented in September in that same year, which was submitted to the Conference of the States Parties (COP21) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris in December 2015. The Conference ended with a policy agreement recognizing the urgency to slow climate warming. The Declaration’s essential purpose was to develop a new generation of rights that respond to ecosystem degradation and to the Earth’s habitat and the fate of its dwellers. This document is innovative in several respects, as it stresses the fact that humankind is becoming a subject of international law and that the common good concept, which already existed in Grotius’s Mare Liberum in the XVIIth century, has now extended to natural as well as cultural goods.
An international jurist, Valérie Cabanes sets out the legal, but also sociopolitical and scientific principles developed in her books: Un nouveau Droit pour la Terre (Seuil, 2016), and Homo Natura (Buchet/Chastel, 2017). Biodiversity and the rights of future generations suppose a new hierarchy of norms to take into account, among other things, limitations to state sovereignty and also to corporate power, as well as the relevance of the interdependence principle that governs the whole living world. The author calls for a universal justice that recognizes a right to sustainable life applicable not only to human beings, but also to nature.
The « crime against humanity » concept has been recognized in various international conventions and cannot be separated from other violations of rights such as the crime of « ecocide » , a concept which Fidel Jaramillo Paz y Miño, an international jurist and researcher with the International Foundation Garzón (FIBGAR), tries to define within the legal and doctrinal context that emerged with the debates in the 1970s and has been widening ever since, discussed in international conferences and included in instruments adopted. However recent the term may appear, its content and implications went unnoticed for decades until environmental issues consistently imposed their presence.
Virginie Langlois looks at quantum mechanical aspects of realia from a philosophical standpoint. The resulting view is a renewed interpretation of such concepts as time, conventionally understood as a unilateral process along an unbroken line in accordance with the Newtonian world view. As a consequence, the idea of time has been transformed, shedding light on how a mechanical model applicable to reality can explain such phenomena as synchronicity and its logical rules. This unconventional picture questions traditional views of science, philosophy and spirituality simultaneously, opening new avenues for those disciplines.
The next two papers examine similar issues from the perspective of civil society actors.
In the first case, Joan Cocks reviews a recent study by Paul Raskin : Journey to Earthland. The Great Transition to Planetary Civilization (Cambridge, MA: Tellus Insitute, 2017). She addresses the diverse actions taken to reverse the current despair among progressives confronted with the somber realities of our age. The book intends to look beyond the defeated utopias by charting how, through a variety of actions, a global citizens movement could resurrect human solidarity and material equality, and galvanize environmental restoration and individual fulfillment freed from the endless quest for profit.
In the second, Joan Newhouse outlines the longstanding research conducted by the Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies as detailed in its recent publication, Explaining Civil Society Development: A Social Origins Approach. Its authors (Lester M. Salamon, S. Wojciech Sokolowski, Megan A. Haddock and associates) have adopted a comparative method to address the scope and structure of the nonprofit sector, referred to as “civil society”, in more than 40 countries. The outcome is a set of new data designed to test a number of theories about unsolved problems in the field.