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Rafael Domingo Oslé , Full Professor de Roman Law, Universidad de Navarra

The governance of humanity

Mon, 10 May 2010 08:53:38 +0000 Published in El Mundo (Madrid)

The most important effect of globalization, indeed its quintessential effect, is the fact that it has turned humanity into a genuine political community, with shared interests and a universal common good. Until recently, humanity existed as an anthropological idea, a metaphysical abstraction, a biological species, a moral unit, a religious concept or a demographic grouping, but not as a political community as such. This new historical reality has, in my opinion, a scope and legal consequences that we can barely glimpse at the moment.

Humanity as a community has not been the fruit of a premeditated social pact but of an unquestionable social fact. It is therefore a community that the Roman jurists would call incidental, born without previous agreement , but not for that reason less community, nor less called to develop as such. The incidental is fully incorporated into the human being.

The women and men who populate the planet are well aware that our opinion counts on very few occasions; hence democracy, the system that guarantees this minimum decision-making that makes us feel free, must be firmly guarded. We are born into a family with no previous enquiry, in a place not chosen, in a time perhaps not desired and in conditions not agreed upon. Nor do we know with certainty when we will die. In other respects, to take one's own life is to take one's own freedom.

Humanity as a nascent incidental community is completely natural and must be recognized as such. Not to accept it would be to oppose the force of facts and the dictates of reason. Every established community needs a law, rules of the game that guarantee justice and peace. It is an emanation of the most elementary principle of justice: ubi societas ibi ius. A political community without justice, without law, is decomposed, sclerotized, brutalized; at final, it becomes self-annihilated. On the contrary, a legally ordered society develops and multiplies like any healthy body. It bears fruit and develops into civilization.

Herein lies the justification for a global law, i.e., a common law of humanity which, while respecting political pluralism and cultural diversity and without any pretension to uniformity, would order this new, complex and interdependent community of all living human beings in accordance with justice. The main difference between international law and the new global law is that the former is based on the sovereignty of states, while the latter is based on the dignity of the person. It is not, therefore, an intellectual whim or a more or less brilliant idea, but an unavoidable legal requirement since humanity has been constituted as a political community.

Any society is controllable, susceptible to being dominated by the empire of power or the force of arms. The globalized human community is now so too, with the aggravating factor that, unlike other smaller communities, humanity is unique and inclusive. There is no room for two Humanities, but there is room for two, 20 or 200 States. The problem of concentration of power on a global scale is more pressing than that originating at lower levels. My teacher Álvaro d'Ors used to say that the advantage of the existence of a great diversity of political societies was the possibility of choosing which one to live in, and of being able to leave it freely when the time comes.

Global law, in this sense, comes to solve the problem of the excessive concentration of world power, at final, of the domination of humanity by spurious and cryptocratic forces, quite capable, although it may seem like science fiction, of governing the planet as if it were an Andalusian farmhouse or a Texan ranch. The new global law, by ordering the human community legally, defends it from totalitarian imperialism, from political uniformity or from a sort of world superstate that transforms humanity into a great Behemoth, limited only by the principle of territoriality.

I like to compare the function of this principle, always secondary, with that of the handbrake in cars: it provides safety, yes, but it prevents progress, which is precisely the ultimate cause of any vehicle. A society is truly postmodern when it applies the principle of territoriality as a means and not as an end, and considers the territory as a function of the person and not the person as a function of the territory. In this matter, the current international law is in trouble everywhere. And radical nationalism, too.

Humanity requires its own status, even conceptual, different from any other, in accordance with its peculiar uniqueness. And a unique form of government, which may well be called anthroparchy. I speak of anthroparchy and not anthropocracy because it is a system of government based more on legitimacy (-archy) than on mere legality (-cracy). The establishment of anthroparchy will require a thorough revision of international institutions in order to adapt them to the criteria of democratization, solidarity and subsidiarity, and will make it possible to design many other new global institutions invoice. The first important step towards anthroparchy consists in the transformation of the UN into an institution free of hegemonic ties, which could well be called United Humanity.

The heart of United Humanity would be its Global Parliament. The only skill of this parliament - not necessarily located in the United States of America, and composed, not only of states, but of a constellation of global institutions - would be to determine which matters and to what extent they would be regulated by global law, thus enjoying a sort of reservation of globality. The rule of recognition of this new order, if we follow the terminology coined by Hart, would be as simple as it is sublime, having inspired all democratic systems: what affects all, must be C by all (quod omnes tangit ab omnibus approbetur).

Global warming, the eradication of poverty in the world, the concentration of nuclear weapons, the fight against international terrorism, the reparation of damage caused by natural disasters, etc., are matters that affect all humans and that could well be subject to the global legal domain. Each of them, once the reservation of globality has been declared by the Global Parliament, would be competentially developed by a specific global institution. In this way, the governance of the world would generate a dispersed, functional political power based on interdependent global institutions informed by the principles of justice, universality, solidarity and subsidiarity.

Wise readers may argue that anthroparchy is, for the moment, closer to the world of utopia than to the sphere of reality. I think not. The breakneck speed of our society means that many ideas can materialize in a very few years. The European Union is a clear example, a beautiful aspiration of a handful of men of the last century with a heart brimming with forgiveness and illusions. Something similar has happened with English. Twenty years ago, the global commitment to this language was not clear; even less so in Europe, the cradle of marvelous languages. Today, however, as if it were a natural phenomenon, nobody questions the language of Shakespeare as language of globalization, as a new lingua franca, fully compatible with the use and promotion of the other languages of the planet.

Let us therefore lay the foundations for this new form of governance of humanity by developing global law and, with it, the enormous advantages of autonomous but interdependent coexistence. Let us be strong advocates of the democratization of global institutions and let us support an essential regeneration of the UN. Let us finally promote a culture of cosmopolitan solidarity that will make this golden dream of perpetual peace and world brotherhood a reality.