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Rafael Domingo Oslé, Full Professor of the University of Navarra and researcher of Institute for Culture and Society and Emory University .

What affects mankind, let mankind solve it.

Mon, 07 Dec 2015 17:20:00 +0000 Published in El Español

The Paris Climate Summit, attended by more than one hundred and fifty world leaders, could become a milestone in the history of humanity. The aim, no more and no less, is to achieve, for the first time in more than twenty years of United Nations negotiations, a universal and legally binding agreement on the planet's climate. If this is achieved, a true global law of mankind would be put into operation, surpassing the now obsolete international law between states. This would represent a real legal, political and social advance for humanity as a whole, with immense repercussions, in the short, medium and long term deadline, in the protection of other global objectives, such as security and the eradication of poverty. If it is possible to achieve such a agreement in subject climate change, why not try it in other fields?

The scenario for achieving this global pact could not be more favorable from every point of view. The recent massacre of 13-N, as was the case with 9/11 and 11-M, has confirmed once again that there are a series of concrete, real, undeniable problems, all of them serious, that affect humanity as a whole and that cannot be solved by individual states or with bilateral agreements. The problem of climate change is too big for any state, no matter how powerful it may be; the same is true of global terrorism or migratory movements. It is, therefore, humanity as such that can and must face them in solidarity: what affects humanity must be solved by humanity.

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Humanity is more, much more than the sum of states; just as our planet is more, much more than the sum of the territories of sovereign states and maritime waters. The great change that is taking place with globalization is precisely this: a progressive increase in human awareness that states are, above all, part of a much larger whole, which even surpasses the very idea of humanity itself.

Globalization forces the replacement of international law between sovereign states by a global law

This development of human consciousness, based on a global experience that did not exist until very recently, is gradually leading to the transformation of sovereign states: from independent and exclusive to autonomous and interdependent. Autonomous interdependence requires a different and much more complex legal regulation than mere exclusionary independence. Here lies precisely the mission statement of the global law of mankind as opposed to international law between sovereign states.

From agreement with the principle of exclusive independence, each state is a whole (inwardly) and a part (outwardly). The sovereign state, therefore, must enjoy supreme power within its territory and with its citizens, and, in its external relations, as part of the international community, it must act rationally in its best interests. Therefore, only when the interest of each state demands it, can it commit itself internationally to reciprocal obligations: for example, by partially renouncing sovereignty.

The legal principle of exclusionary independence is intimately linked to the ethics of self-interest. They are two sides of the same coin. The ethics of self-interest argues that political action is justified if and only if self-interest is maximized, even at the expense of others. The principle of exclusionary independence has dominated the International Office for centuries, particularly since the Treaty of Westphalia. It made some sense and had its own logic, but today, in our global era, its selfish, indiscriminate and arbitrary application can have devastating consequences.

The principle of exclusionary independence, based on self-interest, was applied, for example, for years by France in the fight against ETA terrorism, in favor of the terrorists and to the detriment of the Spaniards, who watched in astonishment as the terrorists roamed freely on French soil. The reason was clear: Spanish terrorism was not a French problem and France did not obtain any benefit from collaborating with Spain. Moreover, by collaborating with Spain, terrorism itself could spread throughout France. Something similar can be said of Israel's nuclear policy, which has always refused to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in order to be able to have the atomic bomb, or of so many aspects of US policy with regard to the war in Iraq.

The principle of exclusionary independence and the ethics of self-interest that sustains it fail at the root because they establish an artificial barrier between what is one's own and what is foreign, often considering even what is common as foreign. Globalization, on the other hand, has allowed us to understand that it is no longer possible to separate, at least at the universal level, what is one's own from what is foreign. Hence the principle of exclusive sovereignty is inapplicable in a global world. Of course, different levels of power and government must coexist, but absolute power with its own exclusive diary can no longer be established in any area of the earth, no matter how small. Moreover, the first stage of global freedom consists precisely in not being subjected to any sovereign and excluding power in a complete way. Therefore, the barrier created between national law (our own) and international law (with those of others) has been broken forever. Basically, it was also a false barrier.

The legal principle of interdependent autonomy is based on an ethic of solidarity, which goes far beyond the ethic of self-interest as it has hitherto been selfishly understood. It is no longer the case that states no longer have to act in their own self-interest, but that the global interest has become a constituent part of the self-interest of each political community. Thus, a state acting in the global interest acts in its own interest, just as a state acting in solidarity in its own interest, i.e. taking into account the interests of others, acts in the global interest. This explains why, where there is a global interest, as in the case of climate change, it is possible, and even ethically enforceable, to reach an agreement agreement. And for this to be legally binding, given its relevance and implications. If this is not achieved, states would be acting selfishly, unsupportively, that is to say, irrationally. In the end, solidarity is the best way to live rationally, and probably the only way to create a more just and livable world.