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*** THE EARTH CHARTER/RIO DE JANEIRO DECLARATION AND THE ONENESS OF HUMANITY
Presented in brief to Working Group III of the Preparatory Committee for the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED)
New York, USA
4 March 1992
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In the opinion of the Baha'i International Community, the Earth Charter has the potential to become the most important document to emerge from the Earth Summit. It could offer a unifying vision for the future and articulate the values upon which a peaceful, prosperous and harmonious world society could practically be constructed. In so doing, the Earth Charter could lift the context of deliberations on humanity's future to a new level -- to the level of principle. Only discourse at the level of principle has the power to invoke a moral commitment, which will, in turn, make possible the discovery of enduring solutions to the many challenges confronting a rapidly integrating human society.
There are spiritual principles, or what some call human values, by which solutions can be found for every social problem. Any well-intentioned group can, in a general sense, devise practical solutions to its problems, but good intentions and practical knowledge are usually not enough. The essential merit of spiritual principle is that it not only presents a perspective which harmonizes with the inherent nobility in human nature, it also induces an attitude, a dynamic, a will, an aspiration, which facilitate the discovery and implementation of practical measures. By proclaiming such principles, the Earth Charter can tap a powerful source of individual and collective motivation, which will be essential for the reorientation of the world toward a sustainable future. Leaders of governments and all in authority would be well served in their efforts to respond to the dangers facing the world community if they would first seek to identify the principles involved and then be guided by them.
No principle, it seems to us, is more fundamental to the environmental and developmental challenges facing the peoples of the world than recognition of their common humanity. Accordingly, we earnestly propose that the principle of the ONENESS OF HUMANITY be given special attention in the formulation of the Earth Charter, preferably in its Preamble.
Acceptance of the principle of the ONENESS OF HUMANITY -- a principle which science amply confirms -- will enable the world's diverse peoples to work toward a common future. It will make possible the reorganization and administration of the world as one country, the home of humankind. Only when individuals see themselves as members of one human family, sharing one common homeland, will they be able to commit themselves to the far-reaching changes, on the individual and collective levels, which an increasingly interdependent and rapidly changing world mandates. This principle -- the ONENESS OF HUMANITY -- should, therefore, be proclaimed in the Preamble to the Earth Charter, taught in schools, and constantly asserted in every nation as preparation for the organic change in the structure of society which it implies.
The principle of the ONENESS OF HUMANITY does not imply abandonment of legitimate loyalties, the suppression of cultural diversity or the abolition of national autonomy, so essential if the evils of excessive centralization are to be avoided. It calls for a wider loyalty, a higher aspiration than has yet animated human efforts. It insists on the subordination of national impulses and interests to the imperative claims of a unified world. It is inconsistent with excessive centralization, on the one hand, and with any attempt to impose uniformity, on the other. Its watchword is "unity in diversity."
As a statement of principle and as the ultimate goal of human existence, the ONENESS OF HUMANITY provides both a unifying vision and the foundation for a new system of values. It has the power to inspire the transformation of individual attitudes and behavior. It can, at the same time, help chart the structural changes necessary for the emergence of a sustainable pattern of development in a peaceful, harmonious, and prosperous global society. The Baha'i International Community would be pleased to offer the assembled Delegates any assistance they would deem useful as they complete the draft text of this historic document.
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