Published on 27 November 2008
Outcome Meeting - International Charter Committee
by Edith SIZOO
23-29 sept. 2008, Changchun, China
PARTICIPANTS (in alphabetical order)
HOST AND PLACE
I. VISUAL PRESENTATIONS of Charter Activities in various countries (videos; CD’s, Power Point, etc.)
II. WHAT HAS BEEN ACCOMPLISHED II.1. Assessment of what was accomplished in the country/region of each member of the International Committee. II.2. Assessment of what we aspire to create and accomplish as an international initiative. II.3. Assessment of global communication within the facilitation team.
III. PROSPECTS FOR REGIONAL / INTERNATIONAL COLLABORATION, such as a. State of affaires of Brazilian International Children/Youngsters Conference “Let’s take care of the Planet”. b. Activities from one area that can be replicated in another c. New initiatives we could partner on d. Producing a book presenting the latest philosophy and ethics of responsibility (worldwide)
IV. FINANCING PROSPECTS FOR THE FUTURE. a. Discussion on prospects for collective funding
The meeting in China could be characterised by the realization that after five years of setting up a great variety of activities aiming at exploring the feasibility of promoting a Culture of Responsibility and the Charter of Human Responsibilities as an expression thereof, time had come to develop a long(er) term strategy.
In October 2003 the members of the Committee met for the first time in Syros to discuss the idea of promoting the Charter in their own countries. In January 2005, during its meeting in Chile, the Committee exchanged its first experiences with introducing the Charter in the various contexts. In October 2006 the meeting in South Africa was devoted to the results of an internal evaluation of progress made and of the various methodologies used.
Before leaving for China, Edith Sizoo and Gustavo Marin had a long discussion with Pierre Calame on the prospects for the Charter initiative. His concerns appeared to be two-fold: on the one hand he wondered how the various initiatives developed in the fifteen countries where the members of the International Committee are active, do fit in a strategic view on the process. His other concern was the coherence across all programmes supported by the FPH, a desire to create alignment with responsibility in all of them.
When assessing what has been accomplished at national, regional and international levels, and examining prospects for future collaboration across the regions, the Committee felt that the question to the Committee to make explicit how its activities fit into a conscious methodology to promote the Charter and realize a strategy for change was a timely one.
Assessment of existing activities
We decided to work out an imaginative plan that will integrate a common VISION and STRATEGY with the various ensuing ACTIONS at local, regional and global levels in the coming years. A strategic plan is a way to bring unity to an operation, a voyage, which has diverse elements – in this case diverse actors, regions, contexts.
It means that we will continue and build on those - often innovative - approaches that have proved to be useful and disregard those without perspective. Thus we intend to move further beyond present boundaries and into more influential levels of society.
We have agreed on a time schedule and a plan of work in order to produce this strategic plan in a collective way. It is intended to be ready in the English version by September 2009 while the French version should be ready for submission to the Board of the Fondation Charles Léopold Mayer by the end of October 2009.
Pierre Calame makes a distinction between four categories of actors : innovators, constructors of doctrines, generalists and regulators.
Innovators practice a new idea, but tend often to be obsessed by the application of that idea only and do not insert it in a more general analysis of what is wrong in the world around them on which a more general strategy for change could be based.
Although these distinctions proved to be useful, we noted in the “strategic analyses” we made of our programmes and activities that promoting a culture of responsibility often implies that the same relevant actors assume multiple roles. It is clear that our activities are marked by “innovators” and “builders of doctrines” as introducing the idea of a Charter of Human Responsibilities is in itself innovative.
We noted that the major concern and challenge, however, remains the question of how to involve the “regulators”, the higher institutional levels.
Another concern we shared are the weak or even blank spots of Charter work in geographical terms. We regret that - compared to Latin America, Asia and Southern Europe - Charter work has not really come off the ground in most parts of Africa and the Arab world and is absent in the Northern part of Europe. We will actively see to it that these gaps are filled in the coming year.
With regard to the FPH’s concern of cross-programme coherence, it was noted that some of the members of the Charter Committee are already involved in other FPH networks than the Charter Committee. We are eager to generalise these connections and work with them in the national/ regional/ global levels in building responsibility as a core ethical principle.
We discussed the outcome of an in-depth research done by Fabienne Presentey and Cecile Sabourin on the conditions of a number of big North American corporate donor agencies for funding all kinds of initiatives. The overwhelming conclusion is not only incredibly complicated bureaucratic procedures, but also an almost exclusive interest in charity-oriented (the poor, the handicapped, the victims of disasters) short term projects that can be photographed (preferably including the smiling good-doer). We decided, however, to persevere with further investigations of fund raising avenues, particularly to investigate other North American and European sources which are international and more “ethical” in scope. We have appointed a small fundraising committee to continue with enquiries about potential funding agencies that may be more oriented towards innovative thinking about ethics and the translation thereof into programmes that engage with responsibility in the face of the challenges of today.
In the face of the wider context of the international financial crisis as well as the environmental threat, the idea of putting at the centre of attention the need for a culture of responsibility (as a value and a practice) and an international Charter as an expression thereof, is currently painfully confirmed. Although many leaders in the fields of politics and economy make abundant use of the word “responsibility”, they seldom make explicit what it means in terms of who assumes responsibility for what, not to speak of the fact that the question of who is accountable to whom and for what is not addressed at all.
Conscious of the major crises the world is facing, the international Charter Committee is grateful to the Fondation Charles Léopold Mayer for the opportunity it has offered to join hands with the Fondation and its partners in order to contribute to promoting the idea of Responsibility as a key-notion and the Charter of Human Responsibilities as a major ethical reference for the 21st century.