Collage: Monastery of Common Good with images from - Photo: 2019

In Quest Of A Charter Of Humanity

By Sean Buchanan

This is the first of a two-part report on ‘The Agora of the Inhabitants of the Earth’, organised to find a new paradigm that overcomes the political and ideal gap in which we are living.

ROME (IDN) – Some years ago, Riccardo Petrella, an Italian economist, political scientist and a leading figure in the anti-globalisation movement, wrote a book entitled Au nom de l’humanité – L’audace mondiale (Audacity, in the Name of Humanity).

The book analysed how we have come to lose the meaning of life, with a progressive idealisation of productivity and efficiency as the only values and with the speculation of uncontrolled finance. Petrella argued that the old policies that reign have led us to a system that is exhausted, with loss of the real and universal values of social justice, cooperation and peace.

Life has been transformed into merchandise, with technological developments that are not at the service of the human being, but of capital, and that go even further by patenting nature.

Unnatural phenomena, such as war or poverty, have become natural. In an atmosphere of general tolerance, wrote Petrella, the system has gone back to using the old banners of “In the name of God”, “In the name of the Nation”, and the new banner of “In the name of money”.

Stimulated by Petrella’s argument, a number of academics, activists, intellectuals and others from all walks of life have agreed on the need to find a new paradigm that overcomes the political and ideal gap in which we are living.

One initiative in his direction has been the formation of “agoras” (named after the central public spaces in ancient Greek city-states) and a particularly interesting one was organised at the Monastery of Common Good in the village of Sezano, near Verona in northern Italy, from December 14-16, 2018.

Convened under the heading The Agora of the Earth’s Inhabitants, the meeting attracted more than 200 participants from several countries who sought to overcome traditional politics, which is clearly in deep crisis, by proposing a political vision that places the human being rather than the market at the centre of things.

The overall aim was to create a Charter of Humanity, which would serve as a compass for navigating in this time of transition to where and what no one knows, but in which the absence of values only makes it easier to exploit our planet and create conflicts and crisis.

The meeting was divided into thematic sessions, each one focused on the deliberations of previously organised working groups, covering the following broad areas:

  • Which Humanity
  • Vision of Humanity
  • Paths of Humanity
  • Uproar of the South
  • Global Social Justice
  • Stop the Arms Trade
  • Organisations of World Public Heritage
  • The Common Good of Water
  • Disarmament of Finance
  • Democracy without Borders
  • Mother Earth: An Essential Philosophy for Universal Fraternity
  • Cooperation, NGOs and Building Humanity
  • Inequality and Social Exclusion

The reports from all thirteen working groups were presented in plenary on the opening day of the meeting, and represented the contributions of hundreds of individuals from around the world on the road to forging a shared commitment on the theme of humanity and its centrality in the economy, finance and society.

From the first report on “Which Humanity”, based on the participation of around thousand people, 101 of whom had sent written proposals and reflections, the meeting placed particular emphasis, among others, on the following three elements:

Participatory democracy has a value as an element of mobilisation and awareness-raising; the moralisation of politics is increasingly falling prey not only to the loss of ethical values but also the capacity of faithfully representing the outcome of consultation with citizens; and, in the current troubled scenario, different groups of resistance and participation are being created and becoming actions of reparation and strength.

Discussion of the second report on “Vision of Humanity” led to identification of a number of key issues, including the following:

Humanity has to be brought back to the centre of common values, such as fraternity, democracy and respect; a space must be created in our hearts that stimulates real encounter with the other, facing up to our own prejudices to let them fall: and, the arts should be used to bring together self-expression and participation. Art, combined with solidarity, is the means which will allow us to contrast the growing technology in society, which is being developed not for humanity but for its exploitation.

The third report on “Paths of Humanity” focused on the possibility of creating a new narrative of the world, for which it was agreed that a list of keywords be drawn up reflecting the words that recurred most frequently during discussions, bearing in mind an observation by Italian psychiatrist Eugenio Borgna that “words are living structures”. These keywords included new citizenship of the Earth’s inhabitants, the common good, biodiversity, community, human rights, monetisation and utopia.

The fourth report on “Uproar of the South” stressed, among others, the need to see both the Earth and humanity as subjects of rights, and the fundamental importance of introducing critical thinking as a new approach to education.

Participants observed that while the current system cannot eliminate poverty it is eliminating the poor (through, for example, the child mortality rate among the poor) and that the neoliberal system is actually the manipulation of nature. In this context, those present were reminded of Pope Francis’ observation that all private property has a social mortgage.

“Global Social Justice”, the fifth report, was based on the Asia-Europe People’s Forum’s ‘Global Charter for Universal Social Protection Rights’ and stressed the need to introduce the concept of equality as dignity and equality in life. It argued that social protection is more than just poverty reduction, it is a primary right, and should also be seen as a right that goes beyond growth, because when growth is seen as the ultimate goal, this ignores the aspects of human and social development, and redistribution according to the criteria of equity and justice. It was also noted that social protection is a tool for changing the system.

The sixth report on “Stop the Arms Trade” was the result of a campaign organised in Germany by Aktion Aufschrei, Stoppt den Waffenhandel – currently the most powerful network in Europe for disarmament and the fight against arms producers – which brought together 150 civil society and church organisations. The report argued the importance of giving a voice to the victims and name and face to the perpetrators. It stressed the urgency of fighting against an arms industry that commodifies deaths and conflicts. [IDN-InDepthNews – 17 January 2019]

Collage: Monastery of Common Good with images from

IDN is flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate. –

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