Drawing on the many initiatives already launched in the different continents at various levels of governance and in many areas of public action, we have identified five principles on which to build governance. These principles are simple in appearance, but we should not underestimate the difficulties involved in implementing them. The distance between concept and reality is often wider than we think. Establishing suitable governance structures that are adapted to twenty-first-century conditions requires a revolution in our existing concepts, mentalities, institutions, and methods, a revolution that will only happen if we can mobilize determination, a firm will, and a clear vision of the objectives to be met and of the paths to be taken over the long term.
These principles are:
a) Legitimacy in the exercise of power. Exercise of power must be linked to a clearly expressed mandate from the people as to how they are to be governed. Persons in positions of authority must be deemed worthy of the confidence placed in them. Limits on private freedom must also be reduced to a minimum and clearly perceived as necessary for the commons. Organization of society must be based on ethical principles that are recognized and respected.
b) Conformity with the democratic ideal and with the principles of citizenship. All individuals must feel that they are part of a shared destiny, which excludes, for example, tyranny by the majority. Rights, power, and responsibility must be evenly balanced. No one can exercise power without being subject to checks and balances.
c) Competence and effectiveness. The way that public and private institutions are set up, their organizational structures, and the people working within them must all be reviewed to ensure that they remain pertinent, and that they have the skills and the capacity required to assume responsibility for responding to the needs of society in all of its diversity.
d) Cooperation and partnership. It is essential that everyone work together for the commons and that governance organize relationships and cooperation among the various types of player, whether public or private, the various levels of governance, and the various administrations in accordance with procedures established by common agreement.
e) Linking the local and the global, and the different levels of governance. Societies must be able to organize themselves in such a way that the autonomy of the smallest communities is compatible with social cohesion at all levels, up to and including the global level.
Sometimes, when faced with the cruelty of war and the decline of solidarity that has led to a modern society based on unrestrained consumerism, growing social inequalities, corruption, organized crime, and natural disasters, we are gripped by an overwhelming sense of helplessness. All the same, we must work toward building a legitimate, effective, and democratic form of governance. We know that our future is uncertain and that, in all probability, it will be very different from what we can even imagine today. We must however assume our own responsibilities now, and contribute to creating a responsible, plural, and united world community for which a new system of world governance is essential.
We must now go one step further: we must work together with players who are capable not only of designing innovative approaches to governance, but also of developing proposals that are socially and politically feasible. This is the prerequisite for breaking out of the blocked situation in which we are stuck today.